Birthday: September 15, 1881
Died At Age: 65
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Milan, Italy
Famous as: Automobile Designer
Spouse/Ex-: Geneviève Marguerite Delcuze (m. 1946), Barbara Bugatti (m. 1907–1944)
father: Carlo Bugatti
mother: Teresa Lorioli
siblings: Rembrandt Bugatti
children: Jean Bugatti, Roland Bugatti
Died on: August 21, 1947
place of death: Paris, France
Cause of Death: Lung Infection
Who was Ettore Bugatti?
Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti was an Italian born French automobile designer, best remembered as the builder of racing and luxury cars such as Bugatti Type 13, Bugatti Type 35 and Bugatti Type 41. Born into an artistic family in Milan, he started his career as an apprentice at a cycle manufacturing company, where he developed his first prototype. However, it was his second prototype, which got him a job at Lorraine-Dietrich car factory in Alsace. Here he continued with designing cars, eventually opening his own company, Automobiles E. Bugatti, in Molsheim at the age of twenty-eight. At twenty-nine, he designed Bugatti Type 13, but had to wait until four more years before he could introduce it, winning the Brescia Grand Prix with it seven years later. Apart from automobiles, he also designed airplane engines and railcars. Unfortunately, German occupation of France ruined his company and he died in France at age of sixty-five.
Childhood & Early Life
Ettore Arco Isidoro Bugatti was born on 15 September 1881 in Milan, Italy. His father, Carlo Bugatti, was primarily known as the designer and manufacturer of Art Nouveau furniture. He was also a noted jewelry designer. His mother’s name was Teresa Lorioli.
Born eldest of his parents’ three children, he had a younger sister named Deanice Bugatti and a brother called Rembrandt Bugatti. Among them, Rembrandt grew up to be a renowned animal sculptor.
After finishing school, Ettore joined his father’s alma mater, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, where he briefly studied sculpture. But by then, he had developed an interest in automobiles, modifying a motor tricycle he was given as a gift at the age of fourteen.
Realizing his potential, his father soon decided that he should have conventional technological training. Therefore in 1898, Ettore joined Prinetti & Stucchi, a Milanese company that manufactured tri and quadric cycles, as apprentice.
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In 1899, while he was still an apprentice at Prinetti & Stucchi, Ettore Bugatti designed his first automobile, which had four engines. Called Bugatti Type I, it was never commercially produced; but generated considerable interest.
In 1900-1901, with the financial help of Count Gulinelli, he built his second prototype, his first four-wheeled automobile. Called Bugatti Type II, it could run 37 miles per hour.
In the spring of 1901, he had Bugatti Type II displayed at the Milan Trade Fair, where it received an award from Automobile Club de France. It also caught the attention of Baron Adrien de Turckheim, who offered him a job at Lorraine-Dietrich car factory in Niederbronn, Alsace.
In 1902, he relocated to Alsace, then a part of the German Empire. Here, he was put in charge of production. Quickly he started improving on Type II and by 1904, designed and produced Type 3 to Type 7. These automobiles were identified as ‘De Dietrich, Licence Bugatti’.
In 1904, although they sold around one hundred vehicles, Dietrich decided to abandon car manufacturing. Bugatti next teamed up with Émile Mathis and the two set up their factory near Strasbourg. The automobiles they produced were identified as Mathis-Hermes (Licence Bugatti).
In 1906, Ettore Bugatti broke up his partnership with Mathis and set up a "Research centre" at Illkirch-Graffenstaden, now a suburb of Strasbourg. There he collaborated with the German internal combustion engine manufacturer, Deutz AG, to produce several prototypes.
In 1907, Deutz appointed him as their Directeur des fabrications. During this period, he designed prototype 8 and prototype 9. Concurrently, he continued to work in the basement of his house, where he built the prototype 10.
Automobiles Ettore Bugatti
In 1909, Ettore Bugatti established his automobile company, Automobiles E. Bugatti, in Molsheim, a town located near Strasbourg. A winner from the very start, he achieved great success in the 1910 Paris Motor Show, selling seventy-five automobiles by 1911.
Continuing to design new models, he designed Type 13 in 1910 and Type 19 in 1911. In 1912, Type 19 was displayed under the marque of Peugeot at the Paris Motor Show and the production began in 1913. It soon became famous as Type BP1 Bébé.
In 1914, he introduced Type 13 as a racing variant, which contained a 4-cylinder, 16-valve overhead cam engine. However, as the First World War broke out, he had to leave Molsheim, moving first to Italy and then to France.
In 1915-1916, while he was in France, Bugatti designed 16-cylinder airplane engines called Bugatti U-16. Although the US Bolling Commission bought a license to build the engine, only 40 were made and the project was abandoned at the end of the war.
At the end of the First World War, Molsheim was returned to France and with that Bugatti resumed his production, fitting the Type 13 with a multi-valve engine. In 1921, the automobile won the Brescia Grand Prix (Italy). Very soon, it began to be called Bugatti Type 13 Brescia.
Until 1926, 2,000 prototypes of Bugatti Type 13 Brescia were built. Meanwhile in 1924, he presented Bugatti Type 35 at the Grand Prix of Lyon. Very soon, it became the most successful of the Bugatti racing models, winning over 1000 races in its time.
In 1931, he designed and manufactured 80 very profitable Bugatti railcars, which helped him to overcome the great depression and save his company from bankruptcy. He produced Bugatti Type 46 from the end of 1929 through 1936. Also known as the Petite Royal, it was the last model he personally designed.
Automobiles E. Bugatti continued to flourish until 1939, when Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti died of an accident, an incident that affected him immensely. The onset of the Second World War and the annexation of his factory in Molsheim by the Nazis also dealt the death blow to the company.
During the war years, he continued designing new automobiles, planning to open a new factory. Although he tried to resurrect the company after the war nothing really came out of it.
Bugatti Type 35, a racing car that not only won around 1000 races, but also took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926, is probably Ettore Bugatti’s best creation.
Family & Personal Life
In 1907, Ettore Bugatti married Barbara Maria Giuseppina Mascherpa Bolzoni. From this marriage, he had four children, two daughters called L'Ébé Maria Teresa (born 1903) and Lidia Germana Ettorina Maria de Boigne (born 1907) and two sons named Jean Buggati (born 1909) and Roland Bugatti (born 1922).
Barbara Bugatti died in 1944. In 1946, he married Geneviève Marguerite Delcuze, with whom he had two children, a daughter named Thérèse (born 1942) and a son named Michel (born 1945).
Towards the end, Ettore Bugatti suffered from paralysis of his mental faculties. He died in Paris on 21 August 1947 and was buried in the Bugatti family plot at the municipal cemetery in Dorlisheim near Molsheim.
Some of his designs, cars and personal objects are now preserved at Musée de la Chartreuse, Molsheim.
Bugatti’s eldest son, Jean (born as Gianoberto Maria Carlo Bugatti), also became a renowned automobile designer and test engineer. He died in 1939 while testing Bugatti Type 57.